New York, US (PANA) - The US, Norway and the UK have welcomed Sunday's start of Southern Sudan's referendum, saying it represents a historic step towards completion of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
''We recognise the significant progress which has been made in recent weeks towards preparing for the referendum, including the successful completion of voter registration and other technical arrangements.
''We welcome the preliminary reports of the UN Secretary General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudan, Carter Centre, European Union, and other international and domestic observation missions, which stated that arrangements are now in place that provide a firm foundation for a credible referendum to take place,'' the countries, known as the Troika Group, said in a joint statement obtained by PANA here Sunday.
They called for all efforts to ensure peaceful and credible completion of the referendum process in a manner which reflects the will of the people of South Sudan.
''The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau have made enormous efforts under significant pressure and deserve to be commended for their work. We welcome the leadership shown by both Sudanese parties. President Bashir has made clear that his Government will respect the outcome of the Referendum. We welcome this commitment,'' they said.
They also said they were encouraged by the strong public commitments of both Presidents Omar Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir to continue negotiations on post-referendum issues and to foster cooperation between the North and South regardless of the referendum result.
''We welcome these commitments as well as their pledge that the safety and security of all peoples in Sudan will be protected throughout this process. It is vital that these commitments are upheld,'' they said.
On the situation in oil-rich Abyei, they commended the people of Abyei for their patience in recent months, and said the ''outstanding issues must be resolved in a calm and measured manner and we emphasise again to both parties their responsibilities to urgently resolve the impasse''
The statement was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Støre and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague.
-0- PANA PR/SEG 9Jan2011